StreamCast Loses File-Sharing Lawsuit
A federal judge ruled against the Morpheus online file-sharing software, finding the firm encouraged computer users to share music, movies and other copyright works without permission.
The ruling was a sweeping victory for a coalition of Hollywood movie studios, record companies and music publishers who sued Los Angeles-based StreamCast Networks and similar firms in 2001. The case led to a landmark copyright ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court last year.
In the 60-page decision, U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson granted the entertainment companies’ motion for summary judgment, concluding there was more than enough evidence of “massive infringement” on StreamCast’s network, despite the company’s arguments that it did not encourage computer users to violate copyright laws.
“In the record before the court, evidence of StreamCast’s unlawful intent is overwhelming,” Wilson wrote.
“No single court ruling solves piracy or can make up for several challenging years for the music community, but there’s no doubt that that rules of the road for online music are better today than they were yesterday,” Mitch Bainwol, chairman and chief executive of the Recording Industry Association of America, said in a statement.
Barring successful appeal, Wilson’s ruling caps a long-running court battle over internet file sharing that erupted after the entertainment industry succeeded in shuttering pioneer file-swapping network Napster. The rise of Napster clones such as Morpheus, Kazaa, Grokster and others prompted the entertainment companies to sue StreamCast and the operators of Grokster and Kazaa.
In 2003, Wilson ruled the file-sharing firms could not be held liable for the actions of the users of their software, a decision upheld by the appeals courts. But last year, the U.S. Supreme Court heard the case and ruled that file-sharing companies could be held liable for deliberately encouraging or inducing customers to commit online piracy. As part of its ruling, the Supreme Court sent the lawsuit back to Wilson’s jurisdiction. Since then, Sharman Networks, the operator of Kazaa, and the company behind Grokster have settled out of court.